Celebrities who grew up poor

Designer clothes, luxury cars and multimillion-dollar mansions – that’s all part of celebrity lifestyle. But it wasn’t always glitz and glamour for some stars. In fact, many of them grew up poor and even homeless and had to work hard and believe in their dreams to gain financial security they now enjoy. Take a look at these inspiring stories of famous people who grew up in poverty.

Demi Moore







Born as Demetria Gene Guynes, one of Hollywood’s most recognizable faces grew up in trailer parks in Roswell, New Mexico, and moved over 30 times. She had an abusive father who spent his days drinking instead of working. But she just couldn’t take that living situation, so she dropped out of school and moved to Hollywood at age 16.

Oprah Winfrey







The queen of daytime talk shows born in Mississippi to young unwed parents, and raised by her grandmother until she was 6 years old. Oprah’s mother worked as a maid and relied on welfare to support the family but the worst part is Oprah was a victim of child sexual abuse.

Jim Carrey







The Canadian actor grew up in poverty and at 12 years old was forced to get an after-school factory job working eight hours per day. “My father lost his job when he was 51 and that was the real ‘wow’, the kick in the guts. We lived in a van for a while, and we worked all together as security guards and janitors,” Carrey once said.

Sarah Jessica Parker







The love and the City star was the youngest of four children born into a struggling family in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her parents divorced when she was 2; soon after, her mother remarried and had four more children. With so many mouths to feed, her housewife mother and truck driver stepfather struggled to get by.

Mark Wahlberg







Mark Wahlberg turned his back on school when he was just 14 years old, turning to a life of street crime and gang life. The actor even spent a 50-day spell in jail after he was convicted of assaulting two men. After that his older brother Donnie helped him out and got him a record deal as rapper Marky Mark.

Leighton Meester







The Gossip Girl star was born in a federal jail in Texas. Her mother, Constance Meester, was serving time there for her involvement in a drug ring that smuggled marijuana from Jamaica to the USA. After 12 weeks in a halfway house, Leighton’s mother went back to prison and she went to live with her grandmother in Florida, where she stayed until her mother was released.

Justin Bieber







Not so long ago, before Justin Bieber became a Youtube hit, the young Canadian was very poor, living in a cockroach and rat-infested house with hardly any food. He had to sleep on a pull-out couch and lived off a diet consisting mostly of macaroni and cheese.

Mariah Carey







Mariah Carey grew up in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Long Island. Toys were a luxury she never owned. She was forced to work several jobs at once to make ends meet after moving to New York. Her luck changed after meeting an executive from Columbia Records.

Hilary Swank







Swank, a high school dropout, grew up in a trailer park in Washington and she was shunned by classmates for being poor. Swank’s father abandoned the family early on, leaving her mother to fend for the family. When Swank was 15 her mother lost her job, and the two moved to California, sleeping in their car or at the homes of friends.

Leonardo DiCaprio







DiCaprio was born in Los Angeles, California, as the only child of Irmelin, a former legal secretary, and George DiCaprio, an underground comic artist and producer of comic books. His parents divorced when he was one and DiCaprio and his mother lived in several neighborhoods, such as Echo Park, a particularly seedy, drug-dominated and prostitution-filled area of Los Angeles.

Halle Berry







This award winning actress didn’t always live the glamorous life. When in her early 20s, Halle Berry decided to move to New York to try her luck as an actress or model. At first, she was forced to live in a homeless shelter for a while, before things started to look up. Despite the financial constraints she experienced, she never lost hope and had no financial help from her parents.

Shia LaBeouf







Shia’s family were torn apart after his mother and father’s fashion company went bankrupt. “My dad and my mom were both artists who never found an audience for their artwork,” he told Parade magazine in 2009. “And so I lived in poverty. Now that I’m not poor, I know that is what it was. Like Hemingway said, you can’t write anything if you’ve never been shot at or been gorged by a bull, you know? So I look back at that stuff and I’m grateful. It’s like scars. You become proud of them.”

Be Sociable, Share!

One response to “Celebrities who grew up poor”

  1. Anna says:

    Shia LaBeouf said a very wise thing. Indeed, poverty is like a scar that you become proud of it when your dreams of getting rich and famous come true. The hard past learns to appreciate what you have achieved in turn of your life. And definitely it is the matter of luck of being at the right moment at the right place and never miss your chance. I bet if we all keep on dreaming and believing that things come true, they would as then the entire universe will help you and embrace you and your dreams with open arms.